How to Beat the Post-Thanksgiving Blues

Black and white portrait of a young man covering his face, perhaps in shame or exhaustion. A bottle of pills is spilled in front of him. Has film grain at full size.

Thanksgiving is a holiday to spend with family, a time to be thankful for all that we have, and a joyous time of celebration. When the table has been cleared, the dishes have been washed and all the guests have left, you might be feeling down or even depressed. The day was full of laughter, talking, drinking and general busyness, and now you feel alone. This is a normal feeling to have and there are ways that you can cope with and get past it.

  • Reach out. Nothing perpetuates the blues more than being alone and lonely. A good way to pull yourself out of the post-holiday funk is to connect with other people. It can be a shock to go from a house full of noisy, happy people to an empty house the next day. Call up a friend and go shopping or take your parents out to dinner.
  • Count your blessings. Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, but being truly grateful all of the time is the key to fulfillment. Whenever you feel blue, list the things you are thankful for in your life and take time to think about and appreciate them. Researchers have found that being grateful is linked with good mental and physical health. It helps to reduce symptoms of depression and stress.
  • Reconnect with treatment. Sometimes the busy preparations and parties of the holidays mean making sacrifices in other areas of our lives. If you have skipped out on support group meetings or therapy sessions because you felt you were too busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, now is the time to get back to it. Your treatment, whether for a mental illness, an addiction or both, is important to your well-being.
  • Helping others is a way to give back for all that you have to be grateful and thankful for, and doing so can improve your mental health. Studies have shown that volunteer work reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and improves symptoms of depression and anxiety. By volunteering and working with others, you will get valuable social time and will make new connections. Social isolation will only make you feel worse, so getting out and being around other people, especially like-minded people, will help you feel better.
  • Get away. Taking a vacation can be a great way to boost your mood. If you can afford the expense and time away, take a long trip. If not, even just a day away with new scenery and new experiences will engage your mind and help you feel excited about something new.
  • Get through it. Sometimes when the blues hit, you just can’t bring yourself to do any of these things. If that’s the case, don’t feel bad or like a failure. Count the day as a loss, get back in bed, read a good book, watch television or a movie, and get ready to face tomorrow. We all need a day like this now and again, and if it helps you feel motivated for the next day, there is nothing wrong with it.

Thanksgiving can be such a joyful time. You see family from out of town, catch up, eat great food, enjoy drinks, socialize and have a great time. The downside is that the next day can be a let-down. Understand that the feeling is normal and that it will pass. If it doesn’t, reach out for some professional help. A qualified therapist can guide you through this time.

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